By Todd Sperry
Citizens can legally carry firearms in post office parking lots, a federal judge has ruled.
The case stems from a lawsuit filed by Tab Bonidy, a resident of rural Avon, Colorado, who was prohibited by U.S. Postal Service regulations from carrying his gun on postal service property.
In the town of Avon, the post office doesn't deliver mail to residents but does provide free post office boxes. Bonidy, who is legally permitted to carry a concealed firearm, was unable to carry the weapon on post office property without violating the law.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch ruled that the USPS must permit Bonidy to carry his gun in his car in the public parking lot at the post office.
"Mr. Bonidy's liberty can be accommodated by modifying the regulation to permit Mr. Bonidy to "have ready access to essential postal services... while also exercising his right to self-defense," Mitsch wrote in the ruling.
Because of the firearms restrictions, Bonidy had to have an employee pick up and deliver his mail at the Avon Post Office, the court said.
While ackowledging that post offices are "sensitive" places and the ban imposed by the USPS regulations is a presumptively valid restriction of that liberty, the parking lot was not a sensitive place. The court said USPS attorneys had failed to present evidence to support enforcement of the regulation on post office parking lots.
In 1972, the Postal Service enacted regulations that prevented open and concealed-carry weapons and explosives on postal property.
A number of high-profile gun violence incidents at post offices across the country has increased the scrutiny on post office safety in recent years.
Despite the ruling, it is still illegal to carry a firearm inside a post office.